Letters

Letters 02-08-2016

Less Ageism, Please The January 4 issue of this publication proved to me that there are some sensible voices of reason in our community regarding all things “inter-generational.” I offer a word of thanks to Elizabeth Myers. I too have worked hard for what I’ve earned throughout my years in the various positions I’ve held. While I too cannot speak for each millennial, brash generalizations about a lack of work ethic don’t sit well with me...Joe Connolly, Traverse City

Now That’s an Escalation I just read the letter from Greg and his defense of the AR15. The letter started with great information but then out of nowhere his opinion went off the rails. “The government wants total gun control and then confiscation; then the elimination of all Constitutional rights.” Wait... what?! To quote the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly!”

Healthy Eating and Exercise for Children Healthy foods and exercise are important for children of all ages. It is important for children because it empowers them to do their best at school and be able to do their homework and study...

Mascots and Harsh Native American Truths The letter from the Choctaw lady deserves an answer. I have had a gutful of the whining about the fate of the American Indian. The American Indians were the losers in an imperial expansion; as such, they have, overall, fared much better than a lot of such losers throughout history. Everything the lady complains about in the way of what was done by the nasty, evil Whites was being done by Indians to other Indians long before Europeans arrived...

Snyder Must Go I believe it’s time. It’s time for Governor Snyder to go. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division are now investigating the Flint water crisis that poisoned thousands of people. Governor Snyder signed the legislation that established the Emergency Manager law. Since its inception it has proven to be a dismal failure...

Erosion of Public Trust Let’s look at how we’ve been experiencing global warming. Between 1979 and 2013, increases in temperature and wind speeds along with more rain-free days have combined to stretch fire seasons worldwide by 20 percent. In the U.S., the fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s...

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The Nanny Diaries Offers an Underdog‘s Glimpse of Park Avenue

Nancy Sundstrom - June 27th, 2002
“Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless-bordering on masochistic Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived pre-schooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employer‘s Hermes bag. Those who take it personally need not apply.“

Who wouldn‘t want that job, you might ask, the above being from the jacket of “The Nanny Diaries,“ a glitzy train wreck of a novel that defies you constantly to put it down.
It holds many points of fascination, with its detailed, insider’s look into the Park Avenue apartments where women wouldn’t be seen without being draped in Prada, children attend Mommy and Me groups with their sitters and peers named Brandford and Darwin, and fathers, when they deign to make their presences known at all, are stunningly oblivious to the needs of their families.
Welcome to the world of “The Nanny Diaries,“ an instantly addictive read that manages to be - all at the same time - hilarious, complex, befuddling, riotous, poignant, and more than a bit sad, much like child-rearing itself.
Written by two former Manhattan nannies, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, who bill this as a work of fiction though much of it seems to ring way too true, even for those in the unwashed masses that include this reviewer, this best-selling novel charts the path of a nanny by the same name who is attempting to find a job that is compatible with her child development classes at NYU.
This modern-day Mary Poppins finds herself in the employ of the remarkably self-possessed and absorbed Mrs. X and her infidel husband Mr. X, looking after four-year-old Grayer, a genuinely good child who seems destined for neuroses, if for no other reason than that he has a schedule built around esteem groups, ice skating and French lessons, and teachers who want Nanny’s “methodology“ for dressing him each morning.
As the book opens, we meet Nanny as she makes a visit to the posh Parents League, looking for work:

“I tune out the officious, creamy chatter of the women behind me to read the postings put up by other nannies also in search of employment.

“Babysitter need children very like kids vacuums“
“I look your kids Many years work You call me“

The bulletin board is already so overcrowded with flyers that, with a twinge of guilt, I end up tacking my ad over someone else’s pink paper festooned with crayon flowers, but spend a few minutes ensuring that I’m only covering daisies and none of her pertinent information.
I wish I could tell these women that the secret to nanny advertising isn’t the decoration, it’s the punctuation - it’s all in the exclamation mark. While my ad is a minimalist three-by-five card, without so much as a smiley face on it, I liberally sprinkle my advertisement with exclamations, ending each of my desirable traits with the promise of a beaming smile and unflagging positivity.

Nanny at the Ready!
Chapin School alumna available weekdays part-time!
Excellent references!
Child Development Major at NYU!

The only thing I don’t have is an umbrella that makes me fly.
I do one last quick check for spelling, zip up my backpack, bid Alexis adieu, and jog down the marble steps out into the sweltering heat.
As I walk down Park Avenue the August sun is still low enough in the sky that the stroller parade is in full throttle. I pass many hot little people, looking resignedly uncomfortable in their sticky seats. They are too hot even to hold on to any of their usual traveling companions - blankets and bears are tucked into back stroller pockets. I chuckle to myself at the child who waves away the offer of a juice box with a flick of the head that says, “I couldn’t possibly be bothered with juice right now.“ “

Nanny settles in with the X family, and the games begin. The hilarious (and equally appalling) Mrs. X sees both her employee and her son as yet another status symbol, and subjects Nanny to a steady stream of bizarre demands, passive aggressive missives written on expensive stationery, and condescension. The family’s lifestyle gives a new meaning to the term “dysfunctional“ in a way not even Jonathan Franzen did in his amazing novel “The Corrections,“ though under these authors’ microscope, it’s a pretty frightening picture.
On the down side, there’s the disintegrating marriage of the X’s, Nanny’s 24-7 attempts to ensure that “a Park Avenue wife who doesn‘t work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day,“ class struggle modern day servitude issues (since when does attending the preschool’s Family Day or helping aid and abet her employer in carrying on his extramarital affairs fall into one’s job description, both the reader and Nanny wonder?), and especially, the fragile emotional well being and psyche of her young charge.
On the up side, there’s the deepening bond that builds between Grayer and Nanny, who quickly emerges as one of the most consistent figures in his privileged, yet deprived young life. Were their relationship not as well-crafted and touching as it is, this might be a rather unpleasant read, but you come to care quickly about both, which contributes greatly to this thoroughly entertaining tell-all.
If you’re into audio books, check out Julia Roberts lending her voice to that version, and count on this making its way to the big screen in the not-too-distant future, possibly with Kate Hudson starring as Nanny. In the meantime, though, put “The Nanny Diaries“ on your summer reading list, sit back, and enjoy the book that has everyone - from Park Avenue wives to young women pregnant with their first child - buzzing.

 
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